My College Capsule Wardrobe: Reflections, Lessons Learned, and 38 Capsule Outfits

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chic-pearl-belt-circle-belt-camo-blouse

If you’ve been following me the last couple of months, you’ve probably heard me talk about my capsule wardrobe countless times. The story goes like this: I am a junior in college, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, the university told us to pack as light as possible in the event that we would have to move back home suddenly (which, to my surprise, didn’t end up happening). Naturally, as a fashion and shoe lover, most of the things I bring with me to school are pieces I wear on my person (boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes). I knew I really needed to pare down my packing list this school year—and thus, my first capsule wardrobe was born.

Even though the semester isn’t over quite yet, I came home early and have finally been reunited with my full wardrobe. For today’s post, I decided to round up every outfit I wore from my capsule (38 looks, to be exact) to give you a sense of the mixing and matching I’ve been doing for the past several weeks. All of these pics are from my weekly Capsule Wardrobe Outfits blog posts, and I tried to group like-items together so you can see versatility in action.

You can check out My College Capsule Wardrobe, which was the first post I published about my capsule and explains how I chose the items I did. As a refresher, here’s what I packed with me to college this semester:

  • Tops (camisoles, cute tees, blouses, sweaters): 24
  • Dresses: 5
  • Jumpsuits: 1
  • Outerwear (cute jackets, rain jackets, coats): 6
  • Bottoms (skirts, shorts, pants): 13
  • Athletic Tops (workout shirts, windbreakers, sweatshirts): 9
  • Athletic Bottoms (shorts, sweats, leggings): 7
  • Pajamas: 4 tops, 4 bottoms
  • Swimsuits: 1
  • Cute Socks, Tights: 9
  • Hats: 2
  • Belts: 4
  • Purses: 5
  • Gloves: 1
  • Sunglasses: 2
  • Scarves: 1
  • Shoes: 12 pairs

In the end, to my surprise, there were several items of clothing I never wore at all: five tops, my blazer, two skirts, my silver block heels, and several purses. While I did wear the silver heels for my 21st birthday photoshoot, I never actually wore them out, unsurprisingly. I only packed them along to wear on my birthday in case I decided to dress up. Like the shoes, I noticed that several of the clothing items I never wore were my “party” pieces. I packed them in the off chance that things with Covid might improve, but I never ended up “going out” at all this semester. The other batch of unworn clothing—the blazer, a plaid pencil skirt, a few blouses—were work-appropriate/professional items, which I also had no use for this semester. Usually I love to dress up for class, but since half of my classes were online, my style became much more casual than usual.

Another chunk of items I never wore were purses. The reason I brought so many bags with me in the first place (and so many clothes in general) is because of my blog. I wanted to bring enough items so that I’d still be able to share blog posts without all the items/accessories looking the exact same. So while my selection of purses was very handy for the many photoshoots I did throughout the semester, I only wore one purse “out in the wild” (to the grocery store, to my friend’s apartment, etc.). I hope to spend much of my winter break stockpiling photos for the blog so that I can bring even fewer items back to school in January. And, after all, purses take up a lot of packing space.

In addition to the pieces I never wore, there were more than 15 items that I only wore once in the nine and a half weeks I was at school. This tells me that even though it was hard to narrow down my closet, I still packed way too much for a true capsule. In a successful capsule wardrobe, I would have worn every item I packed several times and mixed and matched them countlessly. Looking back, I have a very clear idea of what I should’ve left at home (even though my closet at school was huge—I could have fit my entire wardrobe in it if I wanted!).

Below are a few other reflections/lessons I learned about capsule wardrobes over the past semester:

  • Capsule wardrobes mean you have to do laundry a lot more often. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue for me this semester, as I had an in-suite washer and dryer, albeit they were very tiny machines.
  • I should have packed more winter clothes than summer clothes. When I was packing my capsule, I struggled with deciding on a proper ratio of late-summer clothing and fall clothing, as the fall semester usually starts out very warm and progressively gets colder. In hindsight, I wish I would have brought way more long-sleeve blouses and sweaters than short sleeve tops and skirts. Once it got cold—and very cold, snow and all—I found myself lacking in proper attire. I think being too hot in the early days of the semester is probably more manageable than being too cold in the remaining days.
  • Along those lines, the fashion coats I packed were useless. I brought my olive green utility jacket, a leather jacket, a maroon moto jacket, and my jean jacket. Aside from the denim jacket, I only wore the other three once or twice, as they weren’t nearly warm enough to actually wear out in the cold. I left some thicker fashion coats at home, and looking back, I should have brought the warmer, more functional ones instead.
  • Don’t pack anything white! I brought one white blouse and a pair of white jeans, and I hardly wore either of them. White stuff is just a pain to wash, and it’s not worth bringing if it’s just going to sit at the bottom of your dirty hamper all semester (or if you don’t have enough white pieces to make the load of laundry worthwhile).
  • It CRACKS me up to realize how many clothes I packed with me to college freshman and sophomore years (you can view pics of my dorm room closets in this post and this post). Seriously, what was I thinking?! I likely only wore a quarter of my freshman and sophomore wardrobes while at school, if even. I think having done this capsule wardrobe will definitely help me pack lighter in the future.
  • Lastly, having a capsule wardrobe proved to me that you don’t need a lot of pieces to be able to mix and match. But with that said, my capsule also revealed just how much I love fashion and all of my clothes—it brings me SO much joy to look in my closet each morning, carefully pull out an outfit, and get dressed.

In case you missed any of my capsule-related content from the last couple of months, or if you want to see more of these outfits and shop the looks, you can browse all the posts below:

My College Capsule Wardrobe

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 1

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 2

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 3

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 4

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 5

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 6

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 7

Capsule Wardrobe Outfits: Week 8

Thank you so much for following along the last few months! I hope you enjoyed this series on capsule wardrobes and found it helpful if you decide to make your own. A big reason for wanting to create this capsule was to help me know how to pack for my semester-long study abroad program. If I’ll be able to go abroad remains to be seen due to the pandemic, but one thing’s for sure: I’ll know how to pack for it!

 

Miles of smiles,

Grace

4 comments on “My College Capsule Wardrobe: Reflections, Lessons Learned, and 38 Capsule Outfits”

  1. You have some really cute outfits from this semester! I am impressed with your lessons learned and I love seeing the things that were remixed. That is one of the reasons I like to take my ootd pics for insta because it is fun to look back and find new ways to wear things or rewear a favorite outfit.
    http://www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

  2. You’ve done brilliantly well with your capsule. It’s not something I’ve ever mastered – I’m well known for the size of my suitcases! I think people who create capsules are far better at making good shopping choices. Thanks for joining #WowOnWednesday x

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